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Finland ahead of the rest of Europe

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-Radon measurement in the workplace is commonplace 

It’s not just in school education that Finland is ahead of the rest of Europe. When it comes to measuring radon in workplaces, they are a step ahead there too. Measuring radon in Finnish workplaces has been commonplace for a number of years for Radonova’s partner Suomen radonhallinta.  

Even before the new Radiation Protection Act was introduced on 1 June this year, the Swedish Work Environment Authority imposed the requirement that the hygienic limit value for radon (0.36 MBqh/m3) must not be exceeded in Swedish workplaces. And yet there were only around 3,000 instances of workplace measurement in Sweden during 2017, compared with around 70,000 instances of measurement in homes. In the rest of Europe also there is less workplace measurement compared with measurement in homes.

“It is hard to say exactly how much workplace measurement we have performed, but it is well into the thousands. Then of course there are several other operators also measuring radon in workplaces. In Finland there are around 60 high-risk areas where employers are obliged to measure radon in the workplace. Considering that radon is reckoned to cause lung cancer in 300 to 400 Finns every year, there is of course every reason to comply with the existing regulations,” comments Jarkko Ruokonen at Suomen radonhallinta.

Common cause of lung cancer

“Although we are seeing increased demand for workplace measurement this year, it is clear that a lot of workplaces will not manage to comply with the new legal requirements. Here it seems as if Finland has been quick to take the radon issue seriously. Just as in the rest of Europe, radon is, after smoking, the single biggest cause of lung cancer in the population. If we are to bring the figures down, greater efforts are required, as is cooperation between employers, public authorities and private operators,” comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“If you haven’t already taken radon measurements at your workplace then it is high time you did so. Quite apart from the fact that as an employer you are risking exposing your employees to a serious health hazard, there can be serious repercussions for employers who do not comply with the law. Here I absolutely think that the rest of Europe should be aiming to take the radon issue at least as seriously as Finland does,” concludes Karl Nilsson.

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Jarkko Ruokonen at Suomen radonhallinta measures radon at a workplace in Finland. “Our cooperation with Radonova is going really well. They have a modern lab that is certified in accordance with ISO17025, reliable products and excellent customer service.”

House – Why does radon exist in homes and where does radon come from?

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When you own a house or intend to buy a house, you often hear talk about radon values and the fact that you need to check them for health reasons. But where does radon come from?

Radon is a gas that occurs naturally in soil and in bedrock. It is a so-called “inert” gas and is an element with the chemical symbol Rn and atomic number 86 in the periodic table. The property that makes radon damaging to health is the fact that it is a radioactive substance. Radioactivity means that radon emits radiation, so-called “ionising” radiation which affects biological systems. The element radon is part of the decay chain, which includes the elements uranium and radium (which are also radioactive).
Ionising radiation can damage cells and cause cell death and can destroy DNA molecules in the body. Which can lead to mutations and therefore to cancer. Lung cancer in particular is a form of cancer that can be caused by radon radiation.

Where does radon in a house come from?

Radon originally comes from uranium and radium, which occur naturally in bedrock. If a building is constructed on such land, and particularly if the building also has a basement, there can be a problem with radon. The parts of the building that come into contact with the ground can let in radon from the surroundings if they are not sealed.

Investigation and measurement

It is easy to measure and investigate radon in a home. A radon laboratory will help by sending out measurement boxes for radon. You simply hang these from the ceiling in the rooms you want to measure radon in. The measurement must go on for a few months. Then the radon boxes are sent in to the laboratory for analysis and you get a radon value for each room. The limit value for radon is currently 300 Bq/m3 in dwellings. If it is higher than that, you should carry out some form of radon degasification.

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Radonova makes first delivery of radon detectors to Africa

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Radonova’s first project on the African continent.

Swedish Radonova Laboratories has received an order from the IAEA for radon detectors to monitor radon in Cameroon.

The contract is not only for the delivery of detectors, but also for the analysis of radon samples.

As a result, Radonova is delivering materials and services for use on the African continent for the first time.

Radonova

“This order shows that radon is a global health problem. There’s a growing awareness of this issue in countries that haven’t paid that much attention to this in the past. The IAEA may not be a government authority, but it still has great influence and stringent demands when it comes to quality, reliability and support. We also know that we won this contract in competition with several other players and the IAEA chose us as the best option,” says Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“Only a few months ago we signed our first co-operation agreement in Asia. Naturally, it’s a pleasure to continue our international expansion into another continent. Regardless of the environment being tested, radon monitoring and analysis must always be carried out safely and reliably,” Nilsson concludes.

For further information on radon and radon monitoring, visit www.radonovalaboratories.com
IAEA stands for the International Atomic Energy Agency. For further information, visit www.iaea.org

Important to measure radon regardless of where you live

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Internationally, there are radon maps that show which areas are more exposed to radon and which are less exposed. Consequently, many people do not measure radon because they think they live in a radon-free area, but that is wrong. Almost all countries are exposed to radon and considerable local differences can exist within the residential areas. That is confirmed by studies carried out by Radonova in which the results from the same residential area were examined. That is why it is always important to measure radon and not rely on radon maps.

Why are there such large local differences in radon content?

It is due to variations in radon in the ground and how buildings are constructed, what maintenance they have had and what rebuilding has taken place.

The levels of radon in the ground depend on factors such as the extent to which the elements uranium and radium are present in our rock types and therefore also our soil types. Radon gas is formed from these elements and is transported through the soil layer with the aid of air and ground water. This means, for example, that there is a greater risk of radon in buildings constructed on sand and gravel. These highly porous soil types contain large amounts of air that can easily transport radon up into buildings.

Important – Where does radon leak into houses?

Radon from the ground leaks into houses and apartment blocks in many different ways. Unsealed penetrations in the form of incoming electricity and water supplies enable radon to leak into the building. A concrete pad with cracks can also allow radon to leak in.

These causes mean that there can be considerable local variations in the radon content in residential areas. It is therefore always important to measure the radon content in indoor air, regardless of where you live and how you live – in a house or in an apartment building.

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Radonova uses date-marking for even safer measurement

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date-marking

Radonova Laboratories introduces date-marking for the detectors used in radon monitoring. Together with the recently launched vacuum packaging, the date-mark ensures that the monitoring and analysis work can be carried out with the utmost reliability.

Tryggve Rönnqvist, technical manager at Radonova Laboratories, describes the benefits of date-marking the detectors:

“By date-marking each individual pack, we further increase the measurement certainty of short-term monitoring. If radon monitoring is carried out over seven to ten days after the detector has been stored for a year, this could have some effect on the result. Quite simply, it’s more difficult to measure lower concentrations reliably if the monitoring period is short and the storage time is long. Even though we’re talking about small deviations, we always strive to give our customers the most accurate monitoring results possible.”

Easier for stockists and customers with their own stock of detectors

“Above all, data-marketing makes life easier for international stockists and customers who have their own stock of radon detectors. Now they can quickly see how old the detectors are and optimise their warehouse logistics accordingly. Real estate agents are another good example of businesses that benefit from clear date-marking. Monitoring is often fast and frequent in this segment and many agents, therefore, often have their own supply of detectors. With date-marking, we’ve made it easier to use the detectors in the right order.

“Although our monitoring is already at the very forefront of reliability, clear data-marking of each detector and the newly introduced vacuum packaging helps us to offer even simpler, more reliable radon monitoring.

Radonova Laboratories is introducing date-marking on its detectors in November 2018. The newly launched vacuum packaging provides a maximum storage time of eight months. Both for short-term monitoring and three years for long-term monitoring. Radonova also recommends beginning long-term monitoring within 18 months because the measurement uncertainty decreases the sooner monitoring begins.

For further information about radon and radon monitoring, contact us here

How do you measure radon?

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Radon is a so-called “inert” gas that is also radioactive. In other words it emits ionising radiation. If people suffer excessive exposure to this radiation in their workplace or at home, it can lead to cell damage and therefore to cancer. It is estimated that up to 14% of all cases of lung cancer in the world are caused by radon. measurements are crucial.

Radon comes from the ground

Radon occurs naturally in the ground since it comes from uranium that decays. Buildings that have basements and that are otherwise in direct contact with the ground are most affected by radon.

Radon is measured using boxes

Radon is normally measured using what are referred to as “radon boxes”. These are small boxes that you place around the home or in the workplace for a certain period of time. This is to see the specific radon value in the specific rooms where the measurement is being carried out.

This means that it is best to place radon boxes in rooms where you spend a lot of time such as bedrooms and living rooms. In rooms in which you or people around you spend the most time, it may be worth placing two boxes in different parts of the room to obtain the most accurate measurement possible.

Quick measurement or long-term measurements

There are two different types of boxes that you can use for radon measurement. The first of these is the box that carries out long-term measurement that most people are familiar with. A so-called “long-term measurement” enables you to obtain an average annual value for radon levels in indoor air. It is only possible to carry out long-term measurements of radon during the winter months. This is because people do not ventilate as frequently as in summer, which concentrates the radon and, in turn, provides an optimum measurement. Long-term measurements take approximately two to three months and all you need to do is position the boxes. Then leave them there for the full period before sending them back.

For people who do not have the time required to carry out long-term measurements, there are also boxes that provide a quick measurement. These do not show the average amount of radon in a year, but can provide a quick indication of the property’s approximate exposure to radon. They are suitable for people who want to buy a house or another property. Quick measurements take up to 10 twenty-four hour periods and can be carried out at any time of year.

After the measurement

When the period of time for the selected boxes has ended, you simply send in the boxes. You then receive a full report on the results. This usually takes only one week to send out.

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Ecotrak® – radon measurement in soil

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Radonova launches a new product for safe radon monitoring in soil

Radonova Laboratories is launching a new detector that makes it safer and easier to monitor radon in soil. The new Ecotrak® detector can be used ahead of new builds and property modernisations and provides quick, reliable information on the amount of radon in the soil being tested.

Unlike other commonly used soil detectors, Ecotrak® is covered by international comparative tests. The detector is supplied in a Tyvek bag, which protects against moisture, dirt and other factors that could affect the result.

Ecotrak®

Ecotrak® does not have to be returned for immediate analysis, rather it can be collected and stored at stockists for a short period. This enables more streamlined handling and means that detectors from several different monitoring periods can be sent for analysis at the same time.

“Monitoring radon in soil is relatively simple. The challenge is to monitor it in such a way as to provide a reliable result. In part, this means that the product itself has to be high quality. Also able to withstand the stresses that are part and parcel of monitoring in soil. However, it also means using an accredited laboratory that takes part in international tests. This enables us to carry out fact-based comparisons with large amounts of reference data,” says Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“By launching the new detector, we’re making it simpler and safer than ever to monitor radon in soil. No matter what type of construction is involved, there’s great value in understanding the radon situation. What’s more, in some cases the local building committee requires a study into radon levels before granting building permits. Should monitoring show that the site is what’s termed ‘high risk’, the construction can be made radon-proof from the beginning,” says Oskar Boström, product manager at Radonova Laboratories.

Ground radon in brief

Uranium and radium are the two elements that contribute to the levels of radon gas found in soil. Levels of radon gas can vary widely depending on the type of soil. As a general rule, the airier the soil composition, the higher the level of radon. Conversely, a more compact composition makes it more difficult for the radon to circulate in the soil.

Ecotrak® in brief

  • Covered by stringent international comparative studies
  • Not sensitive to moisture (large amounts of water do, however, affect the results)
  • Supplied in a protective Tyvek bag
  • Can be collected and stored for a short period (for efficient handling of multiple measurements)
  • Monitoring usually takes place over one to seven days
  • Can be used all year round (provided the soil is free of frost)

The recommendation is to use at least three detectors for the first 100 m² of the site where the property or construction will stand. After that it’s a good idea to have at least one extra detector per extra 50 m².

For further information about the new Ecotrak® detector, contact Radonova here

Radon measurement season in full swing

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Radonova’s new web application has a completely new and intuitive user interface and gives users secure access to reports, measurement jobs and other data, all updated in real time.

On 1 October the radon measurement season got under way in Sweden. You can actually measure radon all year round, but if you want an annual average for radon levels in your home or workplace, you have to measure them over the course of at least two months during the winter when heating systems are on. In Sweden this is between 1 October and 30 April. In practice, this means you have to start measuring radon levels by the end of February.  

We met up with Oscar Wännerud, who is in charge of the world’s leading radon laboratory. Here Oscar describes the measuring and analysis work carried out during peak season, and talks about how Radonova handles tens of thousands of detectors a month.

In brief, how would you describe your daily work in the lab during peak season?

We are now at the start of the season, so we are working on large volumes of deliveries.

Our automated production of radon detectors has been ramped up, running at top speed, from six in the morning until midnight. This is needed so that over the autumn we can supply 80,000 detectors a month.

In December, the detectors start to come back in, as at that point many customers will have been able to measure over two months. At that time we are still sending out large volumes of detectors. In the spring there are fewer deliveries to be made, as the measurement season is drawing to a close. At that stage the work switches to processing and analysing large volumes of radon measurements. International customers often measure all year round, resulting in a more even flow for these customers. This also means that we run all processes all year round but with varying volumes.

Are all analyses conducted at Radonova’s laboratory in Uppsala?

All radon detectors are manufactured in Uppsala and then distributed across the world. The same applies when customers have completed their measurements. The detectors are sent back to the lab in Uppsala for etching, reading and analysis. This requires reliable, effective and well-functioning procedures and processes for both outgoing deliveries and incoming deliveries of exposed detectors. We need a rational and tightly controlled approach to be able to handle the large volumes we deal with.

Have any new issues or challenges arisen this season?

The work has so far been characterised by increased volumes and rapid delivery times. We are selling more measurement services than ever, yet we have still managed to further reduce delivery times. All so we can give our customers the best possible service.

What do you feel is the recipe for success when it comes to reliability and assurance?

Accreditation is an important base for a monitoring laboratory. We really benefit from being audited by external bodies. Well-established procedures in combination with ongoing improvement work are required for us to be able to remain at the forefront within radon measurement. We are also involved in various international comparative tests in order to ensure that our processes maintain a very high level.

Have you got any general tips for companies or private individuals who are intending to measure radon?

It is simple to measure radon using Radonova’s services. Via “My Pages” you get full control of your data and can easily export it when needed to either PDF reports or Excel files for further processing/statistical purposes. When our customers use My Pages to record data, we get immediate access to the measurement data. This in turn produces quicker analytical results. Another upside to using My Pages is that it minimises the sources of errors, which can easily arise when work is performed on paper and is characterised by multiple manual steps. Via My Pages customers can easily supplement data and get rapid responses.

How do you think things are going to develop in radon measurement?

Automation and digitalisation are the two biggest future trends. The combination of automated processes and customers having increased access through digitalisation will be a crucial success factor. We expect to minimise lead times for outward delivery, but above all we will be reducing the time it takes to perform analyses. I am also convinced that Radonova is ideally positioned to continue as a global leader in the measurement and analysis of radon samples.

 

For further information about radon and radon measurement, visit FAQ

Why is radon dangerous?

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You often carry out a radon measurement when buying houses and properties. But what is radon and why do you need to measure it and why is it dangerous?

Radon is dangerous

Radon is an element with atomic number 86 and the chemical symbol of Rn. It is a so-called “inert” gas, which means that it exists in a gaseous state at room temperature and that the element radon does not readily react with other substances. However, radon gas is radioactive and decays by itself. When the radon decays, it emits ionising radiation containing dangerous alpha particles.

Ionising radiation

Ionisation means that electrons are removed from a nucleus by means of radiation, for example. The atoms, which were previously in equilibrium, then become charged ions which are able to react with other atoms or ions. Such reactions can damage and/or alter a DNA molecule and cause mutations or cancer or can kill cells. For that reason, ionising radiation, and therefore radon, is dangerous to humans.

Why are you exposed to radon in a building?

In its normal form, as stated above, radon exists as a gas. Isn’t it just a matter of airing the building to let the radon out? Yes, in a way it is. Some types of radon problem are solved just through ventilation. But, unfortunately, the gas fills up constantly if a building is constructed on ground that causes radon gas to form.

Radon derives from a “decay chain”, i.e. other radioactive substances decay and form new substances. Uranium and radium, two radioactive elements that exist in certain types of bedrock, are present earlier in this chain. In areas with high uranium levels or radium-rich ground, the risk of so-called “soil radon” will be higher. Radon is particularly common in buildings with basements because the walls are more exposed to the surrounding ground.

Long-term effects and radiation doses

Elevated radon levels in a building can cause an increased risk of cancer and particularly of lung cancer. When you live and spend a lot of time in the building, radon can gradually cause harm. However, the risk is very small for non-smokers. Nowadays, it is recommended that the radon level should be no higher than 300 Bq/m3 in rooms in which you spend a lot of time (WHO is recommending no more than 100 Bq/m3). If the value is higher, you should take action to deal with the radon problem, for example through ventilation or sealing against incoming soil radon.

Vintage Illuminated Watches, Clocks and Dials Emitting Radon

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In the beginning of the 20th century, scientists developed a way to mix “radium 226” with paint. This created ‘radioluminescent paint’. This breakthrough led to the new product being applied to clocks and telephones. Even airplane instrumentation panels (all now considered to be vintage), enabling the devices to glow in the dark.

However the new approach led to unforeseen circumstances. By 1925 a group of radium painters, later referred to as the Radium Girls, sued their employer over health issues. This was believed to be stemming from the ingestion of radium through a practice called ‘pointing’ their brushes. They would lick the ends of the brushes to refine the bristles into a point. Subsequently ingesting radium remnants from the brush. As a result, by 1930 ‘pointing’ brushes was no longer done by mouth and there were no more incidences of malignancy due to radium. This led most people to believe that radium was not a health risk provided you did not consume it.

Sixty years later researchers from the University of Northampton wondered whether since radium decays into radon gas, “vintage” clocks, watches, phones and such items, previously coated in radium paint could influence radon gas levels as the radium naturally decays.

The study was performed in a small bedroom and consisted of measuring the radon gas level for a baseline. Then adding 30 radium dial watches to the room to see how much the radon level would change, if at all. Upon retesting it was discovered that the room’s radon level rose to 134 times the level at which the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) recommends action.

The data from this first study of its kind indicates a previously unconsidered risk. This was from owning, collecting, and storing radium dial watches or other items coated in radium-infused paint.

So keep calm, and think before you go vintage.

Read the Original Article Here
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